Monthly Archives: August 2013

Five of the best

IMAG1700I had a bonanza Bleakholt walking session today. First out of the traps was DEBO, who set off like a train on fire (yes it is a thing, shut up). I careered along after him, almost skidding across the grassy bit. Once we got out, though, he did a humungous poo and slowed down to a more sedate pace. Still pulling a little, but the urgency had gone. Odd name, Debo, but he’s a fine brindly gentleman.

 

IMAG1706IMAG1707As I was putting Debo back in his pen, I could hear ROLO in the next kennel barking “Take me! Take me! I NEED OUT!”, so that’s what I did. We’ve met Rolo before, when I failed to take a decent photo, so here’s two of him this time to make up. Once again we had a big old tummy tickle at the end of the walk. He’s not good at selling himself to visitors, unfortunately, barking at them loudly when they appear.

 

IMAG1708IMAG1710Remember TODD? The lovely feller has another kennel mate at the moment, little KIM, and I took them out on a double. Blimey Kim’s lively. Todd, as usual, wanted to stop and smell all the smells, while Kim just wanted to be off to look at ALL THE WORLD! Trees! Grass! More grass! Poo! Birds! Charlotte! Grass again! It was like having dogs at different speeds, Kim all 78rpm and Todd relaxed at 33rpm (a little vinyl reference there for all you oldies). Perky Kim has already been provisionally booked, so here’s hoping for a good home for her.

 

IMAG1720I was about to go home when I spotted BELLA, a new arrival, and I just had to take her for a walk. She’s deaf, and it was an interesting walk. She responds well to small twitches in the lead telling her which way to go, and a quick pat took the place of “Good dog.” She adores a fuss, and is a beautiful dog. I doubt she’ll be at Bleakholt for long before being snapped up. I considered her briefly myself, but the deafness would require a fair bit of hard work – how would you tell her ‘No!’, for example, if she decided to chase one of the cats? It’s probably for the best if she’s somewhere without cats around.

Oh, and I saw FLACK with his ‘interested couple’ again. I do so hope that works out for him.

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Crowd-sourced Poetry

People will often tell you that “Twitter’s full of awful people” and “It’s crap”. But I say “Nay!” and strike an impressive pose, hands on hips and chin thrusting sternly out. Then I realise I’m naked and hide behind a curtain while I remind you of these beautiful examples of Twitter being lovely. So direct those grumpy gits at this to convince them of the goodness in Twitter.

 

 

 

Moth Girl versus The Bats – the cover!

My short(ish) steampunky fifties serial story, Moth Girl versus The Bats, will be available for Kindle in a few days, and maybe even as a hold-in-your-sweaty-hands book. Both will be at a bargain price. The supremely talented Thom White has once again produced a cover to coo over. I hope you like it as much as I do.

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Moth Girl mock-up

Spaghetti and Balls

IMAG1688After a couple of weeks off due to (a) bad ankle and (b) a glorious time in Scotland, I was back at Bleakholt this morning crying “Let’s walk some dog!”. People look at me funny when I do things like that, but I don’t give a tuppenny toss. First out of the blocks was ROLO, a lovely snuffly feller who was a joy to walk. We had a big tummy rub on the grass after his walk (he did I mean, not me sadly). I could only manage a naff pic of him due to sunshine preventing me from seeing what I had taken, sorry.

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My next client was the superstar that is BETTY SPAGHETTI. Spag did not want to go for a walk round the lanes. Oh no, Spag wanted very much to go in the field, thank you very much. Her being such a strong dog, that’s exactly what we did. We had a splendid time throwing (me) and chasing (her) balls. Her only fault is that she refuses to give any ball back, so that you have to have two balls in your hands at any one time. (Insert your own dirty joke here.)

 

 

IMAG1693And KEETO. A lively pup who wanted to grab everything he came across. Within ten seconds he grabbed Michael’s hose pipe (insert your second dirty joke here), which I managed to get him to drop by offering the other end of his lead. This he held until we came across a manky old ball, which he proceeded to rag and chew all the way round ‘the square’.

Aaah, it’s good to be back.

Moth Girl versus the New Cover

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“Wombie!” you cry, “What do your wombat eyes see?” I peer to the far horizon and spot that this very evening will come a mighty COVER REVEAL for the forthcoming Kindle (and very likely book) versions of ‘Moth Girl versus The Bats’, and that it looks to be a whole heap of shiny.

Gamrie, Friday 9th August 2013

DSCF0782The sea stretches before me, the colour of liquid silver to the east, darkening to molten lead on the west side of the bay where it is overshadowed by Gamrie Head’s grassy braes. The lonely Saltire flutters atop a crag of rock that squats on the water in the near distance. I sit on the lookout point of Seatown Harbour, and I am at peace with the universe.

This place – oh, this place – has soothed and inspired me, and what a delight to be without the constant nag of the internet. I have taken to writing longhand here, my pencil flowing across the page like nobody’s business. I always doubted Alex when she maintained that writing longhand was a way of lending fluidity to her thoughts, her words. But I get it now. This thing that’s happening is almost organic, the words on the page growing out of this remarkable town, its friendly folk and its long history. The keyboard clatter has gone, the constant spellchecker nagging removed. There’s just me, the vast sky, the waves, a million gulls and the words.

“Pretentious bollocks” I hear you say. Well of course, but it’s my pretentious bollocks, and maybe this will be honed during the process of typing it from notebook to blog. It’s coming on to rain now, so I’ll close this notebook and return to the delightful cottage by the sea, haunted by sadness that tomorrow I will be leaving this magical place.

Actual Bollocks.

Fergus

A little thing that I wrote while sitting at the end of Seatown harbour in Gamrie. My sincere apologies to any Scottish readers, especially those who live there, for my poor attempts to capture the atmosphere of that wonderful place.

© @wombat37 2013

The light was fading rapidly now, sapphire to cobalt to indigo. The agreeable sunset apricot tint had faded from the clouds overhead and now they were simply battleship grey. The sea remained calm, but the surface began to chop as a cool breeze picked up, bringing the delicious scents of salt and seaweed to the shore. Gulls, waders and kittiwakes filled the dusk with their last raucous shrieks, whistles and mock laughter.

A maroon smudge smeared athwart the horizon was all that remained of the day’s sun. In the near distance Saltire Craig, a small jut of rock no bigger than a trawler, rose black out of water the colour of molten lead. Pale grey smudges spattered its surface. They swirled and wheeled occasionally about the tattered Bratach na h-Alba, the Banner o’ Scotland, that fluttered bravely atop its lonely pole, as it had since planted there by some hardy Scottish brave some time ago.

High on the lookout platform at the sea end of the harbour pier, Fergus eased his bony buttocks on the rusting bollard and stretched out his legs, feet poking out over the edge of the harbour wall. Inside his clumsy old boots he wiggled his toes, and imagined how good they’d feel with sea-water sluicing between them.

A loud splash echoed across the water, startling him. He peered into the murk, seeing nothing. The sound had originated from the other side of Saltire Craig, out of his sight. What could be large enough to make that noisy an impact with the water? Dolphins, perhaps? Or maybe old friends?

He gazed out at the ending day. Sunset always calmed his mind, soothed his soul, helped him to settle for the life he had now. On either side of the bay the headlands were already mussel-black. The vast dimming sky grew steadily darker.

Fifteen feet below his boots the waves lapped quietly at the weathered stone that protected the vessels safely tucked away behind it. More squealing gulls circled the end of the pier, curving pleasing arcs below his feet. Above his head a tiny red light winked on and began to flash.

© @wombat37 2013A small white boat rounded Saltire Craig, its engine popping quietly as it crossed towards the harbour entrance. The boat was small, big enough only to carry two at most, yet now bearing but one passenger. Fergus could read the name painted on the prow – “Maighdean-Chuain”.

The single occupant raised a hand to Fergus as he passed and entered the placid waters beyond the sea wall. Fergus lifted his own arm in acknowledgement. It was good finally to feel included after all this time. His peculiar arrival in the village all those months ago had caused many to keep their distance at first, yet now even that extraordinary day was fading from memory. Village folk tended to live in the present rather than lingering on what was past. Folk here had finally started to show friendship to Fergus; yes, and acceptance. He scratched his grey beard and pulled the ear-flaps of his plaid charity-shop hat down over his ears. Getting chilly now.

He pushed to his feet, old muscles complaining. He wobbled a little in a gust of wind and steadied himself on the stanchion that held the harbour light aloft, before slowly descending the curved steps down from the lookout point. He ambled along the dock to where the small boat had tied up, and peered down at it bobbing on the shadowy water.

There was enough light left to see that the man in the boat was gutting a freshly caught fish on an upturned blue crate. A sharp knife, expertly wielded, slit the belly open. Fingers were deftly inserted and slid smoothly inside to pull out the guts. These the fisherman flung into the water for the flocking, shrieking gulls to fight over. He glanced up at the dock.

“Fergus,” the man nodded, laying his cleaned fish on a plastic bag beside him.

“Robbie Gamrie, is that you?” Fergus peered uncertainly down into the gloom.

“Aye, so,” Robbie confirmed “Got mysel’ a couple of late haddock.”

© @wombat37 2013Robbie lifted a second wriggling fish and whacked its head on the side of the boat before laying it on the blue crate and sliding in his knife.

“Well done, there,” Fergus said. “What kept you out so late?”

“Forgetfulness. I was miles away, daydreaming like a bairn. I’d likely still be out there, but a noise brought me alert.”

“The splash? Aye, I heard that. Big splash, it was. Did you see what made it?” Hope glimmered briefly in Fergus’ breast.

“Nay, it was behind me, whatever it was.”

“Hmm,” said Fergus, slightly disappointed. “Too big for a bird, anyroad. Could it have been dolphins, think you?”

“Maybe. They… or silkies, eh?”

Fergus could hear Robbie’s grin in the tone of his voice. Robbie didn’t believe in silkies, despite the name of his boat. Not many did, nowadays.

“You’ll have had your supper?” Robbie asked him.

“Ah, no. I’ll have a rollie when I get in.”

“Rollie be damned. You’ll need warmth inside you if you’ve been perched up there for long. Here, catch.”

A dark shape flew up from below to hover briefly before Fergus’ eyes, shimmering a little in the harbour light. Fergus snatched out a hand to catch it before it fell back. The fish was cold and oily, the flesh yielding beneath his fingers as only fresh fish does.

“Got milk, Fergus? Butter and pepper? Get that inside your oven, then get it inside you. It’ll do you a sight more good than cold bread.”

“Thanks, laddie, I appreciate it.” Fergus nodded farewell to Robbie and walked off the harbour, taking the shore path towards his tiny cottage, the haddock hanging limply from his fingers.

Fish for supper. He remembered a time long ago when supper had always been fresh fish. He did not eat it half as much these days, and the gift from Robbie was a pleasant surprise. Fergus was not inclined to take Robbie’s advice on how best to prepare the haddock, however. He would not bake the fish in milk. Tonight he would eat the fish raw, just like the old days.

Biscuit World Cup Final

Sponsored by Wombat Books. Lovely in paperback
“Vorsprung Durch Wombat’s Books.”

So we’re here at last. The big one. The climax. The happy ending. The biscuit orgasm. It’s America v Scotland to decide…

THE BEST BISCUIT IN THE WORLD

…so I expect lots of voting in a tight contest. Polling for the final closes at NINE tomorrow night, cos I’ll need an early night before a seven hour drive on Saturday. And keep an eye out for the Chocolate Bar World Cup coming soon, featuring international swapping of confectionary between supporters.

Remember to add a comment to this post to explain why your choice should win. Such comments have already decided several matches. All commenters will be entered into the AMAZE PRIZE DRAW (see below).

REMEMBER, YOU CAN STILL DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE WALLCHART HERE, ALTHOUGH AT THIS STAGE THAT WOULD SEEM PRETTY POINTLESS.

Shortbread-3chocolate_chip-cookies_1

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CHOC CHIP COOKIES                  v                 SHORTBREAD

 

PRIZE DRAW: everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a Prize Draw after the tournament to win three packets of the World Champion biscuit (unless Tim Tams win cos I have no idea where to get them. You can have Penguins instead) along with a range* of teas in which to dunk them. *might not be a terribly huge range; it depends what I’ve got in the top cupboard.

Biscuit World Cup Semi Finals

Sponsored by Wombat Books. BUY ONE BUY ONE. ACTUALLY, BUY TWO. 
“Wombat’s Books refresh the parts other books cannot reach.”

Semi-finals, dudes! Who thought we’d ever get here? Young biscuits, kickabouts in the park, teacosies for goalposts, isn’t it? And for me, two of the biscuits in the last four are a complete surprise. Voting, which you can do over on the right there, runs until midnight. Remember to add a comment to this post to explain why your choice should win. Such comments have already decided several matches. All commenters will be entered into the AMAZE PRIZE DRAW (see below).

REMEMBER, YOU CAN STILL DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE WALLCHART HERE.

Almond Thinschocolate_chip-cookies_1Almond Thins                                 v                    Choc Chip Cookies
It’s hard to see any other result but a Choc Chip win here, despite Thins disposing of the surprisingly resilient Tim Tams yesterday. Apparently Tesco sell Tim Tams, I’m told.

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Custard_Cream-1Shortbread-3Custard Creams                       v                      Shortbread
A marvellous result for Shortbread yesterday, knocking out the much fancied Nobs of the Hob, will boost their confidence. They will be severely tested by the awesome might of the Custard Creams, though.

 

PRIZE DRAW: everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a Prize Draw after the tournament to win three packets of the World Champion biscuit (unless Tim Tams win cos I have no idea where to get them. You can have Penguins instead) along with a range* of teas in which to dunk them. *might not be a terribly huge range; it depends what I’ve got in the top cupboard.

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